UK Military Expert appointed as part of UN’s crackdown on sexual violence in conflict

London: UK Ministry of Defence Tuesday appointed a military expert to support the UN’s Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN SRSG-SVC).

Lieutenant Colonel Héloïse Goodley will provide practical guidance to develop Human Security reforms to prevent and support the global response to conflict related sexual violence (CRSV).

The appointment is another step in the UK’s commitment to being a global leader on tackling conflict related sexual violence and leading the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative.

The job recognises the indispensable role of the UN’s Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict in advocating for justice and accountability, supporting conflict affected states through her team of experts and enabling states to deliver justice for survivors.

Conflict related sexual violence is not a new phenomenon, and it continues to be widespread in situations of conflict around the world, with incidents of conflict related sexual violence reported in 17 countries in 2022.  Devastating effects have been seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during the Balkan wars in the 90s, and now in Ukraine at the hands of Russian aggression. It leaves profound and lasting scars on survivors, their children and their communities.

Minister for the Armed Forces, RT Hon James Heappey, said: “When Pramila asked me to provide a UK military officer for her team, she made clear her admiration for the expertise developed within our Armed Forces on Human Security

Lieutenant Colonel Goodley is one of our most accomplished officers in this field and I’m delighted she’ll now be able to support Pramila in doing this crucial work.

Lord (Tariq) Ahmad, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, said:

This appointment will strengthen our collective efforts to build a world free from sexual violence in conflict. A Human Security approach which places survivors at the heart of our efforts is essential not only for the empowerment of individuals and communities, but to break cycles of impunity and prevent further CRSV. The UK stands alongside the United Nations in delivering on this important agenda.

Lieutenant Colonel Héloïse Goodley is both a NATO qualified Gender Adviser and a UN qualified Human Security advisor. She has previously deployed overseas as the UN Gender and Child Protection Adviser to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). She holds a PhD in Defence with a specialist focus in security sector reform and has been a Chatham House contributing expert on issues of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI).

Following the launch of Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative over ten years ago, the UK has demonstrated sustained leadership including:

The UK has provided £60m of funding since the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative launch in 2012. This has included funding of £7.85m to the Global Survivors Fund since 2019, supporting over 90 deployments of the UK PSVI Team of Experts, and contributing to the development of key international guidance, such as the Murad Code and the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

In the past year we have imposed sanctions, designating thirteen perpetrators of conflict related sexual violence.

The UK has committed up to £8.6 million for ACT for Survivors, a programme focused on strengthening accountability, including through increased prosecutions, This includes a partnership with UN SRSG – SVC’s UN team of experts to increase capacity for investigation and prosecution in affected states to support effective justice and accountability measures.

As part of a wider commitment to strengthening its approach to Human Security, which includes conflict related sexual violence, the MOD has introduced Human Security Advisers to provide support and guidance during strategy, policy and operational planning ensuring that all opportunities to eradicate conflict related sexual violence are identified. UK Defence is also undertaking a Training Needs Analysis to map and plan how Human Security will be trained across the whole of the Defence institution, ensuring appropriate levels of understanding and application from leadership to new recruits.

Focusing on prevention, striving for justice, ensuring accountability, and providing support to the survivors of conflict related sexual violence are pillars of the UK’s approach. To prevent conflict related sexual violence and make a real impact, we must use our influence with militaries to make change, raise awareness of what it is and how to respond to it when it is encountered. This builds upon existing work by the UK to develop our own response to conflict related sexual violence as well as across the globe:

Launching the UK’s fifth National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security in February 2023, which has specific commitments related to the UK MOD understanding the applicability of the Murad Code in its activity and strengthening CRSV response and capabilities by Defence Medical Services.

The British Peace Support Team based in Africa deliver peacekeeping training and capacity assistance to partner nations across sub-Saharan Africa including delivering bespoke Human Security courses annually on conflict related sexual violence, Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SBGV), Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (SEA&H) and Child Protection.